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The Vow - Film Review

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by Matt Elliot Taylor (subscribe)
"Life is what happens to you while you're busy making other plans." - John Lennon
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Copyright Screen Gems.

As human beings driven by passion and emotion, our most priceless possession is our memory. Memories drive our future, but what happens when our future relies on the memories of another? A loved one perhaps? A young marriage's strength is put to the test in this week's love drama, The Vow.

Leo (Channing Tatum) and his wife Paige (Rachel McAdams) are leaving the theatre one snowy Winter's night when they are involved in a near-fatal car accident. Months later, Leo has recovered but Paige remains in a coma. She finally wakes up but doesn't remember the accident, and just to make things worse, doesn't remember her husband. Early on, told through flashbacks, we see how happy and in love they were together beginning with how they met. Then, cutting back to present, Leo must find a way to make Paige fall in love with him again - perhaps the same way or even more effective than before. As Leo tries desperately to rekindle the loving relationship he once had, including seeking advice from his friends and romantic gestures, Paige's parents (Sam Neill and Jessica Lange) aspire to fix the damaged relationship they had with her and steal her away from Leo – a husband they never approved of.

While this film shares glaring similarities with The Notebook [2004] - both in terms of McAdams' character and the narrative structure – there is a somewhat fresh approach particularly in the ending. That having been said, the setup is confusing at times with Tatum's superfluous narration and the flashback approach being abandoned thirty minutes in. Speaking of which, the build-up of their relationship in the beginning is so overdone and bombarded with clichés but first-time director Michael Suscy may justify it as giving the tragedy of the accident and memory loss more impact. As Paige heals slowly, it's quite adorable but at the same time, Suscy does well to make sure we feel Leo's increasing frustration with the situation. What keeps the story interesting is that we, like Leo, are trying to find the key to winning her memory back or failing that, make her realise that she belongs with Leo and not her ex-boyfriend Jeremy (Scott Speedman) who it seems is done up deliberately to look and act like a complete tosser.

Tatum and McAdams are both very good but unfortunately don't have as much of a chemistry that you might hope for. Some audiences will not be able to resist comparing Tatum to Ryan Gosling, McAdams' co-star in The Notebook. A healthy addition to the casting is Sam Neill, an extremely underrated Australian actor who sadly does not get a lot of work nowadays, but here he adds nothing but strength.

The Vow is a nice story with some good performances, particularly from the leads. In fact, there aren't really many supporting characters, just caricatures that we see in every single one of these kinds of films. Nonetheless, the film hits a satisfying mark on an emotional level that is amplified because it is inspired by true events. Never a stranger to cliché, The Vow is a love story worth seeing that the ladies should definitely enjoy.

3 stars out of 5

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Why? A nice, warm love story that your wife/girlfriend will enjoy
When: February 9th (Aus), February 10th (UK & USA)
Where: Your local cinema
Cost: Check your local cinema for details
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